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German Utility Vehicles
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Old 04-07-2011
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Default German Utility Vehicles

Sd.Kfz. 251

The Sd.Kfz. 251 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251) half-track was an armored fighting vehicle designed and first built by Hanomag company during World War II. The largest and best armored of the wartime half-tracks, the Sd.Kfz. 251 was designed to transport the panzergrenadiers of the German mechanized infantry corps into battle. Sd.Kfz. 251s were the most widely produced half-tracks of the war, with over 15,252 vehicles and variants produced in total by various manufacturers, and were commonly referred to simply as "Hanomags" by both German and Allied soldiers.

There were four main models (Ausf. A through Ausf. D), which formed the basis for at least 22 variants. The initial idea was for a vehicle that could be used to transport a single squad of panzergrenadiers to the battlefield protected from enemy small arms fire, and with some protection from artillery fire. In addition, the standard mounting of at least one MG 34 or MG 42 machine gun allowed the vehicle to provide support by fire for the infantry squad once they had disembarked in battle.

Positive aspects of the open top included greater situational awareness and faster egress by the infantry, as well as the ability to throw grenades and fire over the top of the fighting compartment as necessary while remaining under good horizontal cover. Downsides to the open top were a major vulnerability to all types of plunging fire; this included indirect fire from mortars and field artillery as well as depressed-trajectory small arms fire from higher elevated positions, lobbed hand grenades, and strafing by Allied aircraft.

The standard personnel carrier version was equipped with a 7.92 mm MG 34 or MG 42 machine gun mounted at the front of the open compartment, above and behind the driver. A second machine gun could be mounted at the rear on an anti-aircraft mount.


Variants were produced for specialized purposes, including with anti-aircraft guns, light howitzers, anti-tank guns and mortars or even large unguided artillery rockets, as well as a version with an infrared search light used to spot potential targets for associated Panther tanks equipped with infrared detectors.

Another potentially good design feature of the Sd.Kfz.251 was the large track area, with the characteristic "slack track" design with no return rollers for the upper run of track, and overlapping and interleaved main road wheels common to virtually all German halftracks of the period. This lowered ground pressure and provided better traction, giving the Sd.Kfz.251 better cross country performance than most other nations' half-tracked vehicles. The interleaved and overlapping main road wheels, however, shared a chief problem with the Tiger I and Panther main battle tanks that also used such roadwheel configurations - in muddy or winter weather conditions, such as those during a rasputitsa mud season or the coldest Russian winter conditions, accumulated mud and/or snow could freeze solid between the road wheels, possibly immobilizing the vehicle.
  • Type : Half-track armored personnel carrier
  • Place of origin : Nazi Germany
  • In service : 1939 - 1945
  • Used by : Nazi Germany, Kingdom of Romania, Hungary
  • Wars : World War II
  • Weight : 7.81 tonnes (8.61 short tons)
  • Length : 5.80 m (19 ft 0.3 in)
  • Width : 2.10 m (6 ft 10.7 in)
  • Height : 1.75 m (5 ft 8.9 in)
  • Crew : 12 (including passengers)
  • Armor : 6-14.5 mm (0.24-0.57 in)
  • Primary armament : various
  • Secondary armament : various
  • Engine : one Maybach HL 42 6-cylinder petrol engine 100 hp (74.6 kW)
  • Power/weight : 12.8 hp/tonne
  • Suspension : Half track
  • Operational range : 300 km (186 mi)
  • Speed : 52.5 km/h (32.5 mph)

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Kubelwagen

The Volkswagen Kübelwagen (short for Kübelsitzwagen, meaning "bucket seat car") was a military vehicle designed by Ferdinand Porsche and built by Volkswagen during World War II for use by the German military (both Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS). Based heavily on the Volkswagen Beetle, it was prototyped as the Type 62, but eventually became known internally as the Type 82.

With its rolling chassis and mechanics built at Stadt des KdF-Wagens and its body built by US-owned firm Ambi Budd in Berlin], the Kübelwagen was for the Germans what the jeep was for the Allies.

Although Adolf Hitler discussed with Ferdinand Porsche the possibility of military application of the Volkswagen as early as April 1934, it wasn't until January 1938, that high-ranking Third Reich army officials formally approached Porsche about designing an inexpensive, light-weight military transport vehicle that could be operated reliably both on- and off-road in even the most extreme conditions, suggesting that the Beetle could provide the basis for such a vehicle.

Porsche began work on the project immediately, having a prototype of the vehicle ready within the month, but realized during development that it wouldn't be enough to reinforce the Beetle's chassis to handle the stresses that military use would put on it. In order to guarantee adequate off-road performance of a two-wheel-drive vehicle with a 1,000 cc FMCV 1 engine, it would have to be lightweight. In fact, the army had stipulated a laden weight of 950 kg (2,100 lb) including four battle-dressed troops, which meant that the vehicle itself should not weigh more than 550 kg (1,200 lb). Porsche therefore sub-contracted Trutz, an experienced military coachbuilder to help out with the body design.

Developmental testing by the military began after a presentation of the prototypes designated as Type 62 in November 1938. Despite lacking four wheel drive, a mainstay of the American military Jeeps, the vehicle proved very competent at maneuvering its way over rough terrain, even in a direct comparison with a contemporary standard German army 4x4, and the project was given the green light for further development. The vehicle's light weight and ZF self-locking differential compensated for the lack of 4X4 capabilities.
  • Manufacturer : Volkswagen - Also called Safari, "Bucket / Tub Car"
  • Production : 50,435 (1940-1945)
  • Assembly : KDF-Stadt, Wolfsburg
  • Predecessor : VW type 62
  • Successor : VW type 181 'Thing'
  • Class : Military vehicle
  • Body style : 4-door utility roadster
  • Layout : RR layout
  • Platform :VW Type 1 Kdf-Wagen
  • Engine : air-cooled flat-4,985 cc (23 bhp (17 kW)) / 1,131 cc (25 bhp (19 kW))
  • Transmission : 4-speed manual; self-locking differential
  • Wheelbase : 240 cm (94 in)
  • Length : 374 cm (147 in)
  • Width : 160 cm (63 in)
  • Height : 165 cm (65 in) (top up);
  • 111 cm :(44 in) collapsible
  • Curb weight : 715 kg (1,580 lb) (GVW 1,160 kg)
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